A KNUTSFORD acting school which counts Suranne Jones and Peter Kay among its guest teachers is celebrating after decade of business.

Actor Tribe is run by married couple Jennifer James and Lee Boardman, both of whom are working actors and have lived in the community for more than 20 years.

The acting school was created in 2013, when the couple decided to try and bring a community-led creative space to Knutsford.

Lee, aged 51, said: “It started as wanting a place to come and be creative.

“We also wanted to run classes where people could learn about acting specifically for the screen.

"Most classes and schools in England are just for the stage, but it’s a very different skill."

Knutsford Guardian:

Jennifer and Lee have both found great degrees of success on screen, with Jennifer appearing in more than 300 episodes of Coronation Street as Geena Gregory, and Lee acting appearing in HBO’s critically acclaimed Rome.

Actor Tribe holds a unique role in Cheshire due to the calibre of guest teachers the pair can bring in to teach due to their connections within the industry.

Regular names include BAFTA winner Suranne Jones, Emmy-winning director of episodes of The Sopranos and The Wire, Steve Shill, as well as beloved comedian Peter Kay.

Knutsford Guardian:

Lee emphasised the importance of students learning from people currently working in the industry.

“They need to see and hear from people do it for a living.”

Jennifer, aged 45, added: “You just aren’t going to get these kind of opportunities anywhere else, you don’t get access to these kind of names in an acting school.”

Classes cater to all age groups and there are some students who joined in 2013 at the age of seven who are set to head to university next year.

Knutsford Guardian: The Actor TribeThe Actor Tribe (Image: Actor Tribe)

Students have been successful over the 10 years with several winning roles on major TV shows and national ad campaigns.

The school's biggest success story came with a film called The Silent Child in 2017.

Jennifer and Lee recommended some of their teenage students to a casting director for the film, two of whom were cast, before the production went on to win an Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film.

To the couple who run the acting school though, success comes with more than just providing opportunities for their students.

Jennifer said: “We teach more than five classes, and over the 10 years have taught them almost every possible technique we could. But more than that, it’s a safe place for everyone who comes to our classes.

“The name is because this is our little tribe, it’s our little family.

“For young people who are maybe low on confidence or having trouble at school, this really helps build them up. Not just kids either, but all ages, our oldest student is 68!”

When asked what the plan was for the next 10 years both Lee and Jennifer spoke excitedly of the celebrations planned for a decade of work. 

Knutsford Guardian:

“We are holding a party for the school’s anniversary,” Lee said, “Steve Shill, an Emmy-winning director, is also wanting to hold a red-carpet event to screen what he’s been working on with his students recently.”

Regarding what is next, Jennifer said: “We just want to continue to do what we’ve been doing and more.

"To give opportunities you won’t get at big drama schools, and continue to be party of the community, and to help out the creative people of Cheshire."